Creative writing: creating original fiction, non-fiction, and poetry that steps outside convention, outside the box, or, perhaps, outside the page. Writing purely to create. Creative writing clearly isn’t hard to define; it’s simply hard to perfect.
When a poem or a narrative derives from within the your very being, there’s no way of knowing whether anyone else will comprehend it. You never know if the themes of immortality and transformation are powerful enough in your science fiction piece. Is your main character relatable, even with unrealistic goals? Does the metaphor of the 1954 blue Chevy pickup that represents your late father actually come across in your poem, or does it fall flat?
All writers face the problem of expressing their thoughts and visions. Not receiving any feedback during the writing process can lead to severe disappointment once the novel, essay or flash fiction is finally completed. Writing workshops offer a remedy to this plight.
Writing workshops provide writers with a safe environment in which they can share their work and receive constructive feedback. Writers also have the opportunity to read others’ work, enhance their own editing skills and learn from other writers’ processes.
Wendy Barker, Poet in Residence and a professor at UTSA, expressed the importance of workshops to writers of all levels of experience. “I don’t know of any really good poet who writes without feedback from other poets.” Barker continued, “Even Emily Dickinson, the quintessential ‘poet alone,’ showed everything she wrote to her sister-in-law who lived next door.”
Barker has taught creative writing for nearly 30 years and recognizes the importance of workshops to writers, “I know that most of us who write have a strong introvert side to ourselves, there’s no question. We have to. But we also need each other,” Barker said, “and to be in a group, just to find out that there are other people who care about what you care about is strengthening right there. It’s nurturing just to know that other people care about this art form.”
Workshops take on all shapes and sizes, similar to the writers who attend them, but one feature that’s absolutely essential to making them work is to provide a feeling of sanctuary.
Barker, in all her workshop experience, mentioned the gravity of this affirming that “in a creative writing workshop where the texts are our own outpourings, there has to be a feeling of safety in the class. People have to feel comfortable…You’ve got readers right there who are attending and caring and getting it or not getting it and explaining why.”
Writers in need of feedback who are looking for workshops to join have many options in San Antonio. At UTSA, workshop courses are available for plain creative poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Sometimes specialized courses pop up, such as Mixed Media Poetry last spring. For English majors and minors, there are also Advanced Fiction, Advanced Poetry and Advanced Professional Writing workshops to choose from.
Outside of the university, the San Antonio Writers’ Guild hosts workshops of various genres that meet every first Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. These workshops are free and available to writers of all genres and all writing levels. Further information can be found at: <www.sawritersguild.org>.
Gemini Ink offers workshops that are free to the public in addition to classes. The schedule for upcoming workshops can be found on Gemini Ink’s website at <www.geminiink.org>.
Another option is San Antonio Romance Authors (SARA), which provides support to local romance writers of all levels, from beginners to published authors. SARA requires membership in Romance Writers of America as a pre-requisite, along with membership in the San Antonio chapter. However, guests may attend up to three meetings before being asked to join. Their meetings are the third Saturday of each month at the Parman Library, 20735 Wilderness Oak, and run from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
These are only a few of the many workshops that San Antonio has to offer. If you have a story to tell or a poem to write, remember how invaluable an audience is, especially an audience filled with fellow writers who care about improving your work.